Martin Bain reveals exactly why he sold Vito Mannone

Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain has defended his decision to sell goalkeeper Vito Mannone last summer.
Vito MannoneVito Mannone
Vito Mannone

Sunderland crashed into League One at the weekend after another disastrous season where performances on the pitch have been among the worst in the club's history.

Bain has faced fierce criticism for his role in the club’s successive relegation, particularly with regards the recruitment of players.

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Signings made both last summer and in January have not worked out and in particular, the attempts to replace Jordan Pickford and Vito Mannone have firmly failed, with Robbin Ruiter, Jason Steele and Lee Camp all dropping numerous clangers which have cost Sunderland dozens of points.

Bain accepted that the club have not got recruitment right but said his cost-cutting measures were vital to keeping the club in operation without owner Ellis Short’s funds.

He said: “It’s been an extremely difficult period for everyone connected to the club. I’m feeling that pain that people are attached to the football club.

“In terms of where we are now, we’re a club that has failed and any club that has failed has to look back and see where it went wrong.

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“But fundamentally there’s a backdrop. That is that when I came to this football club two years ago it was one that was haemorrhaging money and to the extent that it was hugely reliant on owner funding.

“Couple that with a relegation from the Premier League and it culminates in an owner who no longer wants to fund the club, other than what is absolutely necessary to keep it going.

“It’s been a difficult, difficult time for all concerned.

“I don’t look at it as me inflicting pain [in my work], but keeping things glued together.

“There aren’t many football clubs in the world that could be massively dependent on owner funding then suddenly succeeds on the pitch if those funds are no longer available.

“My job is to protect the institution."

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Mannone was sold in the summer for £2million to Championship rivals Reading, with Bain later claiming it was good business. He insists now that the club wouldn't have been able to recruit players for the Championship had that deal not gone through, with the money they received for Pickford having gone into servicing the club's debt.

Bain added: “With Vito, let’s leave aside that there was one year left on his contract, that he may have wanted to go. If I hadn’t sold him for £2million I couldn’t have brought in eight or nine players for Simon Grayson. That’s the bottom line.

“I came to this club with a vision but because of the financial side I couldn’t implement that.

“Where it all starts and ends is recruitment and I get the frustration on that side. We’ve not got that right.

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“This summer, if the club is not sold, we’re looking at probably 14 players required. At that point I would have to sit down with Ellis and present those facts.

“We have a great manager in Chris, who is the right person, and we have a massive determination to make things right.”